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Former Celtics Player, Lakers Coach Bill Sharman Passes Away at Age 87

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Former Celtics Player, Lakers Coach Bill Sharman Passes Away at Age 87

NBA legend Bill Sharman passed away at age 87 on Friday.

As The NBA on ESPN mentions, Sharman was one of only a select few to be enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. 

The Abilene, Texas, native attended high school in California and developed into one of the best shooters of his era, earning consensus first team All-American honors at USC and seven All-NBA team selections.

Sharman, who played in the Brooklyn Dodgers' minor league system for several years after college, starred for Red Auerbach's Boston Celtics in the 1950s and early 1960s, earning eight All-Star nods and winning four NBA championships. Sharman also earned NBA All-Star Game MVP honors in the prime of his career in 1955. 

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Following brief head coaching stints with the San Francisco Warriors in the NBA and the Utah Stars in the American Basketball Association, Sharman took over as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers in 1971.

Sharman coached NBA greats like Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West during his time in Hollywood, earning NBA Coach of the Year honors en route to leading the franchise to its sixth championship in his first season as head coach in 1972.

The Lakers released a statement on Sharman's passing, and the following is a quote from president Jeanie Buss: 

Today is a sad day for anyone who loves and cares about the Lakers. As our head coach, Bill led us to our first championship in Los Angeles, and he was an important contributor to the 10 championship teams that followed. For the last 34 years, his importance to Dr. Buss and our family, and for the last 42 years to the Lakers organization, cannot be measured in words. His knowledge and passion for the game were unsurpassed, and the Lakers and our fans were beneficiaries of that. Despite his greatness as a player, coach and executive, Bill was one of the sweetest, nicest and most humble people I’ve ever known. He was truly one of a kind. On behalf of our organization, the Buss family, and the entire Lakers family, I send my condolences, prayers and love to Joyce and the Sharman family.

General manager Mitch Kupchak also passed along kind words:

Bill Sharman was a great man, and I loved him dearly. From the time I signed with the team as a free agent in 1981 when Bill was General Manager, he’s been a mentor, a work collaborator, and most importantly, a friend. He’s meant a great deal to the success of the Lakers and to me personally, and he will be missed terribly. My love and sympathy go to Joyce and Bill’s family.

The Lakers have had 16 head coaches since Sharman stepped down in 1976, but Paul Westhead, Pat Riley and Phil Jackson are the only ones to have led L.A. to a championship since then.

Overall, Sharman was a part of seven championship teams, including the ABA's Los Angeles Jets (1962) and the American Basketball League's Los Angeles Stars (1971).

It goes without saying that Sharman leaves behind an untouchable legacy as one of the sport's most influential figures. 

 

Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter. 

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